Motherhood is oriented to firsts.
Our baby’s first smile,
After the baby is born,
some firsts seem to take forever.
First smile, first tooth,
first time mom can have an uninterrupted conversation
or read a book and remember the contents.
The only hint that it’s
not all about firsts
comes from older women.
They fuss over our darling babies with delight.
When they do,
our traitorous babies make liars of us:
cooing back as if they don’t have colic and diaper rash
and the incessant ability to dominate our lives.
These older women speak
in some kind of code
known only to those
whose babies are long grown up.
(Maybe a secret society.)
The way they operate is so
consistent that clearly
it’s a ritual of some kind.
There’s always a pause
in their baby chortling.
They look us in the eye
to say some version
of the very same thing.
“They’re little for such a short time.” Or,
“These years go by so fast.” Or,
“Enjoy every moment.”
They want us to know something they didn’t know,
that no one really knows fully
until their babies are grown
Despite the exhaustion and sleepless nights
and the loss of one’s free time
to the cutest loud smelly creature ever,
the earliest years
are packed with heart-filling wonder.
When our babies grow up
motherhood is also
filled with lasts.
The last time we’ll change
a diaper is worthy of a
There’s also a last
time holding a little
hand to cross a street,
the last tucking into bed,
the last book read aloud,
expressions of love
life with a child.
Such “lasts” line the
way toward our child’s
remind us to cherish
As a mother who is now shorter
(okay, much shorter) than each of her four children,
I claim the right to coo over babies
and tell new mothers in all seriousness,
“these years go by so fast.”
I haven’t been invited into the secret society yet.
I hope there’s not a dress code.
I’m NOT wearing any damn red hat.
Creative Commons image credits
Woman and baby picasaweb.google.com/…/9NX5sOZc8XwaveIURkiqGw
Woman and baby flickr.com/photos/jm_photos/2057212651/sizes/z/in/photostream/
Woman and baby flickr.com/photos/iandeth/1949150981/sizes/l/in/photostream/
Angel girl flickr.com/photos/tianderson/286211866/
Little girl flickr.com/photos/40379737@N00/3812002166/
Boys in street flickr.com/photos/mcsimon/1266570816/
Reading aloud flickr.com/photos/j_regan/8197734711/sizes/c/in/photostream/
Boy in tree http://www.flickr.com/photos/takile/5809992860/sizes/z/in/photostream/